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TSX Remains Slightly Higher

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Equities in Toronto were slightly higher, on Monday, helped by industrial shares and waning fears of ...

Equities in Toronto were slightly higher, on Monday, helped by industrial shares and waning fears of an escalating conflict in Syria following the weekend’s U.S.-led air strikes.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index inched up 18.49 points to pause for noon hour at 15,292.46

The Canadian dollar eked higher 0.06 cents to 79.49 cents U.S.

The industrial sector advanced, boosted by an 88-cent rise in shares of Canadian National Railway to $94.64

Canadian Natural Resources fell 46 cents, or 1%, to $43.84, and Suncor Energy dipped 27 cents to $47.45… proving the biggest drags on the energy sector.

Share of Vermilion Energy Inc fell $1.82, or 4.1%, to $42.22 after the oil and gas producer said it would buy rival Spartan Energy Corp in a $1.40-billion deal.

Shares of Kinder Morgan Canada rose six cents to $17.30. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday offered financial aid to ensure the Trans Mountain line project went ahead in a move to end an escalating crisis over the oil pipeline.

The biggest percentage gainer on the TSX was medical marijuana producer Aphria Inc, which rose 62 cents, or 5.4%, to $12.02, after reporting quarterly results. Torex Gold Resources, once the biggest percentage loser, recovered 23 cents, or 1.8%, to $13.10.

On the economic front, the Canadian Real Estate Association reported that home sales via Canadian MLS Systems edged up 1.3% from February to March 2018.

CREA added that, despite having improved marginally in March, national sales activity in the first quarter slid to the lowest quarterly level since the first quarter of 2014.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange advanced 7.41 points to 803.85

Eight of the 12 TSX subgroups were higher by midday, with health-care cruising along 1.2%, while industrials and utilities each ahead 0.7%.

The four laggards were weighed most by energy, sputtering 0.9%, gold, down 0.7%, and materials, off 0.3%.

ON WALLSTREET

U.S. stocks rose on Monday as fears of an escalating conflict in Syria eased for the moment.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average skyrocketed 208.83 points to 24,568.97, with Merck rising more than 2.5%.

The S&P 500 strengthened 20.43 points to 2,676.77, with utilities and telecommunications as the best-performing sectors.

The NASDAQ Composite index pulled higher 46.45 points to 7,153.89

Merck shares popped after the company said its cancer-treatment drug Keytruda reduced the risk of death in the trial by 51% when combined with chemotherapies, versus chemo alone.

Meanwhile, J.B Hunt Transport rose more than 7% on the back of a stronger-than-expected quarterly revenue, led by a 14% jump in Intermodal sales, its largest segment.

Investors also kept an eye on corporate earnings after Bank of America reported better-than-expected quarterly results. The bank's earnings were helped by loan growth and lower corporate taxes.

The earnings season is off to a good start thus far. Last week, BlackRock, J.P. Morgan Chase and Citigroup reported better-than-expected earnings. Netflix is scheduled to release its quarterly results Monday after the close.

Wall Street has high expectations for this earnings season, with analysts expecting a 17.3% increase in first-quarter earnings
In economic news, U.S. retail sales rose 0.6% in March, boosted by a 2% jump in auto sales.

Prices for the benchmark 10-year Treasury note skidded, raising yields to 2.85% from Friday’s 2.83%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices down 61 cents a barrel to $66.78 U.S.

Gold prices picked up $3.70 to $1,351.60 U.S. an ounce.